Kongo Across the Waters is an ambitious and surpassingly beautiful art catalogue. It was originally produced to accompany an exhibition, mounted by the Harn Museum of the University of Florida, that is currently on view at the Carter Center in Atlanta. It explores the culture of the Kongo people of West Africa. Kongo was a once mighty kingdom that included parts of the French Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Congo Belge (the former Zaire), and Angola. Further, during the years of the slave trade, many members of its Bantu ethnic group were transported to the southern United States, Haiti, Cuba, and Brazil. The exhibition and the catalogue benefitted substantially from the loan of objects by the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Belgium, adding depth to our understanding the complexity of Kongo cosmology, ceremony, and art. But, for my money, the most exceptional feature of both show and book was the Harn Museum's decision to focus as well on the impact of the Kongo people on the New World. This makes both the show and book critically relevant for those wanting to know more about the contributions of West African culture to the larger patchwork of life in these United States. Readers intrigued by this interplay may also wish to pick up a copy of Robert Farris Thompson's Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. This modestly-sized book, published in the early 1980s, examines not only the New World influence of the Kongo people but also that of the Yoruba, Mande, and Ejagham.
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 2159 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 36 mm
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